Random Stuff

It’s Friday night, and I’m on the train down from Liverpool to Nottingham. It’s been busy at work again, so this is the first time I’ve been able to take some time and write about what’s been going on in my life.
The project we are working on is moving from the Site Survey and Design Phase to the Implementation Phase, which means big changes in the way we are currently doing things. Everyone is rushing to get ready and so things are very hectic.
I don’t want to talk about work though. I always talk about work.
I’m passing through Manchester at the moment. It’s such a beautiful city. The train is elevated and the view of the cityscape from its windows is wonderful. We pass through some truly gorgeous English countryside between Manchester and Sheffield. Sometimes I can pass hours simply staring out the window and watching it all fly by.
It’s getting cold. The clocks switched back an hour last Saturday night, it gets less sunny every day. I’m constantly wearing coats and jackets. It’s almost time to pull my gloves and scarf out. I read in the paper that this year we are going to have one of the coldest winters in history. Crap. The only bright side is that it may snow heavily over Christmas. I would love to have a truly white Christmas, to build snowmen and have snow ball fights. To cuddle up in front of the fire and eat brandy covered cakes. Ok so maybe it being cold this winter isn’t such a bad thing after all.
I got paid today! My nice fat payslip is sitting in my pocket. Money is a strange thing. I’ve got more of it now than I’ve ever had before, and it’s changing my perception of things. It is to be expected I guess. My standards are rising. I can afford better clothes now, better food, and better wine. My tastes are becoming more refined. I can afford better quality things, and so now I’m beginning to not settle for lesser quality things anymore. I guess ignorance really is bliss, because before I wouldn’t have dreamed on spending lots of money of a good bottle of wine, but then before I didn’t know any better.
God I must sound like such a snob. That’s really not the case though. I’m saving my money; I put almost all of it away. I think long term when it comes to money. The only debt I have is my student loan. I’ve got no overdraft, no credit card bill. I am not spending lots of money now on assets that will only depreciate with time, I’d rather put that money away so it increases with time instead of decreases. My standard of living may have increased a since I started earning a decent wage, but I’m still essentially living a student lifestyle.
I don’t know why I decided to write about that. I’m all over the place at the moment. I’ve got so many things running around my head I’m struggling to keep track of them all.
I had a big meeting down in Telford on Wednesday. Once the day was over we all went out for dinner and then got very drunk. Thankfully we were crashing in the hotel that night and didn’t have to return to Liverpool until the next day. The Regional Project Managers are all based in Telford, and they have been living in that hotel for almost four months now. The go home for the weekends to see their wives and children, but during the week they camp out in the hotel and do their work. It must be a very strange life. They have all gotten to know the hotel staff very well, particularly the bar staff.
My mind is wandering again. I’m almost at Nottingham. I’ve been writing this on and off for more than two hours now. I can’t want to see Nikkie. I miss her so much. I had to work last weekend and so didn’t get a chance to see her. I can’t remember us being apart for this long since last Christmas!! I’m staying down in Nottingham through till Monday, so I’ll have plenty of time to spend with her this weekend. We haven’t got anything in particular planned. Most of all I just want to sit with her, to talk with her, to look at her. It’s really scary how much I love this girl.
I’ve got a spare battery now for my laptop, so I can get about 4 hours of usage out of it now. Half way through I just shut down, whip out the dead battery and replace it with the spare charged one. It makes a really big difference being able to work for that long. I’m almost lost without my laptop now.
Well we are almost there, so I had better wind this up. I’ve got to pack up all my stuff and get ready to jump off the train and into the arms of my beloved. Take care everyone, I’m thinking of you.
M

No TV

I don’t own a TV. In the UK they have this absurd notion of a TV Licence. You need to pay about £130 pound a year just to own a TV! Ostensibly this is to pay for the BBC. I object to the universality of the licence fee though. If I own a TV, even if I never watch the BBC, even if I don’t even have an aerial hooked up, even if I just watch videos on it, or use it with a playstation, or whatever, I have to pay the fee.
Well fuck that. I’d rather just not have a TV. It frees up a surprisingly large amount of free time actually. When I get home from work I can’t just flop onto the couch and mindlessly watch some rubbish that is on. I actually do things, constructive things, and if I do want to watch a show I have to specifically choose something and watch it on my computer. There is no “luck of the draw” aspect to it.
So yes I don’t own a TV, but I do own a computer, and computers don’t count unless you have a TV tuner card installed that allows you to watch conventional TV. So I do get to watch movies and the latest TV shows, as long as they are in a format my PC can display. I rent DVDs and watch them, and I also follow the latest TV shows.
At the moment I am watching The O.C. Season 3, Lost Season 2, Battlestar Galactica Season 2 and Spooks Season 4. These are all really great show! The quality of TV has certainly improved over the past couple of years.

Meetings In London

It’s mid-morning and I am on the train from Nottingham to Liverpool.
I had a big meeting with some of the General Dynamics guys in London yesterday. We were discussing the next phase of the project; what feedback they had from the first phase and what features they would like to see in the second. Everything went well; their feedback was positive and their requirements manageable in the timeframes required. It was a very productive meeting.
So Nikkie was up last weekend, and because she has finished placement and is on Project week, she stayed a couple of extra days and came down to London with me yesterday. I of course had to work all day, but I jump at every chance I get to spend more time with her.
I’m back at work today of course and it is going to be busy as usual. But as I’ve said before, I’m finding it really interesting, I am enjoying it, and I’m getting paid really well too.
So enough of my recap of work. That’s all I seem to talk about recently. On to other things!
Thanks to all of my friends who emailed me back with status updates on their lives! I wrote about fifteen different emails that day on the train and sent them out to all of you guys who I want to keep in touch with. It was great to hear back from all of you (well almost all of you, you slackers know who you are who didn’t write back, so get on it!! :), I really liked reading about everything new that’s been going on in your lives since we last caught up. Some of you I hadn’t talked to for at least a year!
This blog is a very one-way form of communication. I write my entries but get very little in the way of comments. I know people read it; I’ve got stats that show when the site is viewed and where the viewers are. I recognise pretty much everyone who reads the site, who the readers are from Australia, who they are from the US, who they are from the UK, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got that Finnish reader sussed too 🙂 Some of you check the site almost daily, some from week to week, while others sometimes go months without checking. I know you are all filled in on what’s going on in my life (or the small portion of it I have time to describe here), but I feel really left out when it comes to all of your lives. So I’ve done my best to remedy that. If you won’t add comments or (heaven forbid!) create blogs of your own then I am just going to have to pester you with emails until you respond!!
Until then, take care everyone.

Quick Update

It’s Sunday night and I’m on the train from Nottingham back up to Liverpool.
I haven’t got much battery left on my laptop so I’ll have to make this a quick update.
It’s been a busy week. I’ve been down to Nottingham and back three times in the last 9 days! Work is going well. Nikkie and I are great. The weather is getting colder. It’s my mum’s birthday tomorrow; Happy Birthday Mum!! I’ve got a bit of a cold. I’ve just opened a new bank account. I bought a new winter coat. We had lunch out with the old Church Avenue gang yesterday plus their new housemate Kirsty. I was supposed to go into the office today but didn’t. I’m going to take some time off over Christmas to spend with Nikkie and her family.
Opps powering down!!

TrainBlog

I am on the train once more.
Perhaps I should rename this blog from Genesisdreams to TrainLog, or RailJournal or something like that because that’s what it is becoming.
I’ve got Star Guitar blazing from my earphones as I type this. The quaint English country side whizzing by in time with the beats. I’m hyped up on one too many train trolley lattes and am in the mood to write!
I had the most wonderful weekend. On Friday night Nikkie and I met up with all of our friends at bar BZR. After one too many triple vodka and oranges we made our way down to Ocean, our usual Friday night clubbing haunt, and managed to get in without tickets and without too much queuing! They had redone the place somewhat, but they still played the same old cheesey music. It was great! I had forgotten how much I enjoyed clubbing, both Nikkie and I really needed a good long dance.
Saturday we did some more stuff, went out for dinner, watched the OC season 3 and the first two episodes of Lost season 2. Sunday we did more stuff, then I got on the train home.
I don’t really feel like writing a full account of that stuff now. It was such a wonderful weekend I don’t really want to write about it in detail. I’d like to keep a lot of it for just Nikkie and I.
Still I am in the mood to write. I’ve talked about work, university, travel, friends, books, music, and movies in my blog before. I’ve talked about my love life. I’ve talked about my hopes and fears. I’ve talked about my dreams.
This blog is called Genesisdreams. I started it more than two years ago now with the intention of providing a link to my family and friends back home. At that that point I was only planning on coming to the UK for a year, on exchange for University. This blog was designed to help me keep in touch with those I left behind back home. Over the years though its purpose has changed somewhat. It now represents to me a record of a new beginning. It’s a history of the beginning of my dreams. I didn’t really know where my place was until recently, I was unsure about my future, about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be, who I wanted to spend it with. I had ambitions, I had hopes, and I had plans. I had dreams. Dreams about where I wanted my life to go, about what I wanted to achieve with it. Through this blog I hope I’ve allowed you to witness the genesis of these dreams. Reading back over my entries I think you can follow a definite sense of purpose, of direction, leading me to a turning point. We all have a road to walk down, and we face forks in that road every day of our lives. Occasionally though we come to a junction from which there is no turning back. If you take the wrong path you can’t simple retrace your steps and take the other once. Our decisions shape our lives, and I think that looking back over this blog you can see what the major decisions were that I faced, and what helped lead my to my final choices.
Go down the wrong path and your dream ends, how down the right one, and it’s only the beginning.
Written while listening to Chemical Brothers – Star Guitar

Another Long Week

Well it’s Friday again, and I’m on the train down to Nottingham. I have some time now to myself, to think, to reflect, and to write an entry for my blog!
This week was very intensive. I did an all-nighter Sunday night, and another Tuesday night. I racked up more than 80 working hours this last week, so effectively did two weeks work in one. This whole last month I’ve been averaging 60 hours a week.
It’s pay day today though, and I’ve got a rather large pay packet coming to me, so I’m happy. ^_^ The drinks are definitely on me tonight!!
I’ve been doing some really excellent work recently, and because of it I’ve got another promotion. I’m now the design authority for the Enterprise Project Management system I am producing, which means a lot more authority and responsibility. Hopefully another pay rise too; I’m talking to the boss about that next week.
So we are now examining the next phase of functionality. I’m writing documentation and getting everything ready for security auditing. We have to comply with BS779 because of the restricted and secret information that is being held on the system. We are entering an exciting stage of the project and I’m really looking forward to getting onto the next lot of functionality.
But enough about work. According to Nikkie I am now officially the best boyfriend in the world. Because I’ve been so busy this last week I haven’t been able to call her as much as I would like. She has been really busy too, doing her neurology placement in a hospital in Boston. She’s been feeling a little sad that we have both been too busy to keep in better contract, so to cheer her up I got a dozen red roses delivered to the ward she was working on in the hospital . She said she got such a shock when they arrived, and has had a massive grin on her face ever since. I’ve had a massive grin of my face all day too knowing about the surprise she would get. I can’t wait to get to Nottingham and see her.
In other news I talked to mum and Fragma last night for about an hour each. It’s the first time I talked to either of them on the phone since I got back from Australia! I know! How bad of a son/friend am I!! Mum had a lot of news to tell, and we chatted for ages. She told me that she had received a thing from the University of Queensland saying that I had been admitted to the Dean’s Honour Roll for my Bachelor of Business Management, which I thought was a scream. I hardly use my Engineering degree, let alone my Business one. I guess it’s good to put on my CV, but I still think of it as a bit of a joke considering the amount of work I put into it. Mum said she lost the lapel pin that came with it, but I told her not to worry. I’m never going to wear it.
After speaking to mum I called Fragma at work. He works harder than I do the crazy man! Nikkie reckons it is all his fault that I am working this hard. She says he is a bad influence on me :). We chatted about all my friends back home, what they are up to, what new things that have been happening. We also chatted the normal bollocks that we do. It was great to talk to him again. I’ve got to stop being so slack and call my friends back home more. I think I’ve only called Ads and Wulfen once or twice each, and Fragma only a few more times than that. I left some really great friends behind in Aus and I really need to start making more of an effort to keep in touch.
With that thought in mind I’m going to finish this blog entry here and spend my remaining battery power writing emails all of those friends of mine who have been slipping away recently. Expect an email soon guys!

I Know Kung Fu

Modern hackers are ronin, wandering samurai who have no master. Their laptop is their katana and their mobile phone is their wakizashi. Their horse is named 3G and on it they can reach the whole world. They are the technological elite; highly mobile warriors of the information revolution.
I came into work yesterday at 3.30 in the afternoon, and left at 6.20 this morning. After two hours sleep I was back at work. I spent the whole night doing some serious hacking. I learnt an incredible amount of stuff and got some really cool shit working.
I am tired as hell, but damn I love my job.

It’s Midday on Sunday and I am on the train back up to Liverpool. I just said goodbye to Nikkie, gave her a great big hug, jumped on the train just as it was about to pull away, sat down and booted up my laptop. I’ve got to go into the office this afternoon to do some out of production maintenance work on the system. Geoff just called and one of the nodes on our SQL cluster has failed, so it might be a long night to get things back up and running properly again. The big advantage of having a high available infrastructure, with a backend SQL cluster is that you can afford to have and entire node fail and the system can keep on running.
So I’m sitting here thinking to myself, I have a very fucking cool life. I’m hacking together solutions for a living. I feel sort of akin to Randy Waterhouse in Cryptonomicon minus the WWII intrigue and global politics. I’m not jetting around the world setting up a data haven like he is, but when I step back and think about it, what I’m doing is pretty damn awesome.
I’ve spent the last week putting the finishing touches on a system that has been rolled out on a UK Ministry of Defence contract. It’s my system, running on Geoff’s infrastructure. It is dual redundant, highly available and scalable. It is totally secure, isolated from the outside world and is designed to meet JSP 480, which is the UK’s standard for networks that are going to contain restricted and secret documents. It’s an amazing piece of work and I’m really lucky to have had a chance to work on it.
I work hard on that during the week, and then I jet on down to hang out with my tall, blonde half-Dutch goddess for the weekend. I’ve got my trusty laptop at my side, akin to a pistol on my hip or a sword on my back. We’re going 3G now, so with the VPN software we are using I can jump on our secure network from anywhere and do some work. I’m a wandering samurai, a roaming hacker, a specialist doing an important job. And you know what; they actually pay me stupid amounts of money to do it as well!!!
Ok that may all be a really idealistic look at what I do, and totally glosses over the mundane, boring work that needs to be done to get everything working, but sitting here reviewing the last, hectic seven weeks I think it’s about time to get idealistic. I’ve done a really great job, and it’s moments like this which make it all worth it, which make you wake up and realise how bloody good you have it, how lucky you are to be living in such an exciting world. Not only living in that world, but playing a really cool part in it as well! Now that I’ve had time to reflect on it all I really can’t believe how lucky I am.

I’m free to be whatever I, whatever I choose, and I’ll sing the blues if I want.
I’m free to say whatever I, whatever I like, if it’s wrong or right, it’s alright.
Free, to be whatever you, whatever you say, if it comes my way it’s alright.

Written while listening to Whatever by Oasis.